It's sometimes difficult to dare to go barefoot when walking or running! However, there are many benefits to be gained and, if practised gradually, there are few risks.
Barefoot walking or running, also known as 'earthing', is often underestimated, but the benefits are many and varied. According to physiotherapist Gil Amsellem, walking barefoot is an excellent anti-inflammatory that regenerates tissues, thins the blood and reduces fatigue. From a biomechanical point of view, this practice strengthens muscles, stability and flexibility by rolling out the foot differently to the use of shoes.
By placing your feet directly on the ground, you also stimulate the foot's reflex zones, offering a 'natural reflexology' session, as the title of Gil Amsellem's book suggests. What's more, walking barefoot is an excellent way of connecting with the earth, which can contribute to greater vitality.
However, many people are reluctant to take the plunge, mainly because they are afraid of other people's stares, the cold, injuries or hygiene. But these fears are often swept away once you've taken the first step. In fact, walking barefoot can strengthen the skin underfoot over time and is pleasant even in cold weather.
For those who want a gentle start, there are well-maintained trails such as the Sentier pieds-nus in the Hautes-Pyrénées. It is 1 kilometre long and uses a variety of materials, including pebbles, clay balls and mud. This trail offers a unique experience to de-stress and connect with the earth.
Finally, if you're already used to walking barefoot, you can try barefoot running. This practice, initiated by Christopher McDougall in his book "Born to Run", is becoming increasingly popular in the United States. It helps to strengthen muscles, improve posture and reduce the risk of injuries linked to the use of unsuitable footwear.
In conclusion, barefoot walking and running offer many physical and mental health benefits, but it is advisable to start gradually to avoid injury. So it's time to get started and enjoy the benefits.